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Opening the Made in Oregon store at Portland Airport

I thought, “I’d sure like to have a shop in Portland Airport”, you know, a gift shop and so on. But there was a gift shop already there and so I couldn’t…they wouldn’t give me a space there to open up a shop. And then I had a…I made lots of contact with friends from here and one of the man was Punch Green [Alan “Punch” Green, 1925-2001], who was a commissioner of the port. So I go and talk to him and so on and told him how much and he said, “Well I can’t…you can’t open up a store there.” He had to control…the commissioners there had control of the different things that happen. So one of the things I said to them, all of a sudden got an idea. “How about I open up a store just selling Made in Oregon products?” “Oh,” he says, “But I don’t think there’s enough stuff made in Oregon to sell.” I said, “ I think I can find enough things.” So I got a very small shop there called Made in Oregon.

Where did I get the idea Made in Oregon? It was, like I said, “Made in Japan”, “Made in Hong Kong” and so on so I said, “Made in Oregon.” And that is when, you know, that is when he said he thought I could open up the store.

So I opened up the store at the airport. Now people don’t realize the heavy traffic that’s in the airport. And that’s what you have to have, I knew. Retailing, you gotta have traffic. You gotta have people coming. That’s why all our stores in malls so that people coming into mall will stop and so on because we are an impulse store. We call it impulse. Just buy things, just happen to go by and see something they like and so on. In other words, it’s not destination, where you’re going to go and get…buy some hardware, what you need for the house or something like that. You see what I mean? So from there, we did tremendous business. I mean then we got a bigger space and so on. And from there, we opened up stores in the malls.


Made in Oregon (store) Oregon retail stores stores United States

Date: December 8, 2005

Location: Oregon, US

Interviewer: Akemi Kikumura Yano

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum.

Interviewee Bio

Sam Naito (b. 1921) is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Naito Corporation in Portland, Oregon. In 1975 he established Made In Oregon, a store based at the Portland International Airport dedicated to merchandising "products made, caught or grown in Oregon." Made In Oregon has since grown to 10 store locations in Portland, Salem, Eugene and Newport. Sam's father came to the United States (by way of England) around 1917 from a small town near Kobe, Japan. The family opened an importing business in Portland in 1921, but with the outbreak of World War II, the family faced discriminatory city ordinances and other forms of racial prejudice. In 1942, the president of the University of Oregon denied Sam's request to finish his spring term, stating that it would be "unpatriotic" to allow him to do so. The family decided to move to Salt Lake City, Utah, to join other family relatives. Sam worked and attended University of Utah where he met his future wife. He eventually graduated from Columbia University in New York in 1945 and, after the war, started a wholesale ceramics business that became Norcrest China Co., an importer of fine china and dinnerware both from England and "Occupied Japan." (December 8, 2005)

George Azumano
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George Azumano

Downtown in Portland, Oregon

(b. 1918) Founder Azumano Travel

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George Katsumi Yuzawa
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George Katsumi Yuzawa

Neighbors' sympathy after Pearl Harbor

(1915 - 2011) Nisei florist who resettled in New York City after WW II. Active in Japanese American civil rights movement

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Toshio Inahara
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Toshio Inahara

Identified as Japanese ancestry

(b. 1921) Vascular surgeon

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Masato Ninomiya
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Masato Ninomiya

Occupations of early Japanese immigrants

Professor of Law, University of Sao Paulo, Lawyer, Translator (b. 1948)

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